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Welcome on behalf of the City of Bloomington to our celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.!  Thank you for being here tonight for this powerful gathering, a chance to come together as a community in solidarity, appreciation, and reflection on how we are keeping Dr. King’s ideals alive, to make “the promises of democracy” real!  You’re in the right place tonight!!

Welcome to all our elected officials joining us, to the MLK Commissioners, to IU Provost Lauren Robel, and to all the volunteers and organizations in our community who are carrying Dr. King’s legacy forward with their service.  I’m honored, humbled, and energized to be here with all the hard-working, deeply caring people in this room who are tending to Dr. King’s dream every day by embracing, lifting up, and being there for everyone in our community.

And I want to extend a warm Bloomington welcome to our keynote speaker, Janai Nelson, of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.  We are looking forward to the wisdom you will share with us tonight.

Tonight’s celebration and all the related activities would not have been possible without the efforts of the City of Bloomington Community and Family Resources Department. Thank you to Beverly Calender- Anderson, Michael Shermis, and all the CFRD staff and interns.   

Many holidays we mark by sharing a meal with family, giving gifts, parading, singing, reminiscing...but there is something about Dr. King’s legacy that makes this holiday different -- unique.  How does one preserve the legacy of a man who once stated that “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'” We celebrate Dr. King’s Birthday as A Day On, Not a Day Off. Dr. King’s remarks inspire and inform the many acts of service and community-building that will be performed today, and every day across Bloomington. Those hours spent in training to assist survivors of domestic violence, reading to children, collecting books for those incarcerated, serving meals and washing dishes at a shelter...

These acts of service that we perform together -- together town and gown, young and old, whomever we love, whatever our religion or beliefs, whatever our skin color, whatever our nationality -- these acts embody our celebration of Dr. King. And the alliances we forge or renew on this day knit together the fabric of this community.  These experiences bridge gaps between and among us, introduce us to those we might not otherwise meet, rekindling human dignity, and reminding us how arbitrary the boundaries are between us. As Dr. King said, “People fail to get along because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

The bridges we build within our community on this day, and throughout the year, strengthen our safety net yes, and also generate empathy, respect, peace and unity among us. Which is why we embrace and celebrate a diverse and pluralistic society. Actively engaging with those who are different from us enriches, strengthens, and helps us move forward.  

That is why, on this 33rd national observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we commend and energetically support and endorse the state legislature passing and Governor Holcolmb signing, FINALLY, real, comprehensive hate crime legislation during the current session at the State House. [pause for applause]  Our own Hoosier state with our legacy of the terribly named “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” or RFRA, with our history of the John Birch Society, and of the KKK -- indeed this state which about a century ago saw its governor and more than half its state legislators members of the Klan -- this state, one of only five in the country without hate crime legislation, yes it’s time, it’s way PAST TIME, for Indiana to enact meaningful hate crime legislation. And our city stands together in that support. Amen.

This evening, I have the honor and the pleasure of presenting the Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award, which honors those who have made significant contributions in race relations, justice, and human rights.   Past recipients are listed in your program and include some inspiring leaders in this community.

Tonight, I present the Legacy Award to someone whose service to the community is so extensive, I know that many of you -- most of you -- know her. [hint one] Her enthusiasm for knowing, writing, telling and acting out the stories of African Americans in and beyond our community has made a tremendous impact. [hint two] Her devotion to the special needs community and to the children of incarcerated parents is immeasurable. [three] While working full time as a speech, language, and hearing clinician for MCCSC, raising a family and earning an advanced degree, she co-founded the organization that is now called LIFEDesigns, which provides group homes, apartments, and assisted living for people with developmental disabilities.

Over thirty-eight years, our honoree has served on the boards of Bloomington Hospital; Bloomington Youth Shelter; Stone Belt Center, the Bloomington Playwrights Project, and on the Kelley School of Business Diversity Advisory Board.  She has chaired the National Speech and Hearing Association Diversity Committee. In celebration of Indiana's bicentennial, this multi-talented leader co-wrote, produced, and performed in Resilience: Indiana's Untold Story and most recently wrote a play for our bicentennial -- Stories of Monroe -- to sold-out and wowed audiences.

And by now many of you know who the 2019 Legacy Award Winner is. She’s been showcased in the book, Ordinary Extraordinary African American Women: The Elders. She received the Living Legends Award in 2012.  For her commitment to justice and a passion of service to others, we present the 2019 Martin Luther King Legacy Award to Dr. Gladys DeVane.  As Dr. DeVane sends her deep regrets that she is out of town today -- no doubt in service to others -- Liz Mitchell will accept her plaque, and we’ll share a video of Dr. DeVane--

Please join me in recognizing our 2019 Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award recipient, Gladys Devane. 

Thank you again for being here; keep doing the great work of justice and caring you do every day. And enjoy the rest of the evening.

Speeches